May 21st, 2011
I’ve been wanting to go there (Tibet) for the past 5 years, after my trip to Jiu Zhai Gou. It’s so hard to find the right buddies to go along. Some says it’s to expensive, better go to Europe, some says it might not be safe to go there. After a long waiting time, finally, our group is fixed. Six people it is. From three to four to five to six to eight and finally, it is six.
May 22nd, 2011
These past three days are hectic. We considered 2 travel agents for our tibet trip. http://www.tibettravel.org and http://www.chinahighlights.com
One of our friends used chinahighlights service last year and good review, so one point for them. CITS (tibettravel) email guide can provide us advise such as people like to stay at Rongbuk to see the sunrise hits the Mt. Everest, so one point for them. The final gong, CITS offer cheaper price. The difference is quite significant, almost 300 dollar, so we decided to choose CITS. Unfortunately, our contact at CITS told us that they cannot get us softsleeper. We need either fly in to Lanzhou and get a train from there to Lhasa, or change our plan by flying in and using train out. So, we changed our mind and choose chinahighlights. Before choosing them, I specifically asked whether they can guarantee soft sleeper for us. 95% so she said. Since the days are getting closer, 2 weeks is approaching so we decided to use the chinahighlights service, the difference is not gonna be so big if we need to fly first to Lanzhou. Transferred all the money and wait for them to confirm our train tickets (train tickets are sold 10 days before the day). So last Friday (May 20th,2011) got an email telling us that they couldn’t get the softsleeper ticket. They book 6 hard sleeper tickets for us (different compartment). Either we can use that or fly to Lanzhou (paying additional 100 USD/person) or use the train out and fly in. URGHHHHHH….their assurance of the 95% chances getting the ticket were the one that made us chose them at the first place. May 20th to May 22nd are hectic, back forth emailing asking for a discount and browsing for hotels in Beijing. No luck for the discount. And spends so much time browsing http://www.booking.com, http://www.hostels.com, http://www.agoda.com, http://www.tripadvisor.com, http://www.airbnb.com.
May 28th, 2011
2 hours till airport time. Past five days were crazy busy. Just booked Beijing hotel for the first night on the day before yesterday and have not yet booked any hotel in Beijing for the day after Tibet. My friends and I decided to find hotel once we arrived.
May 29th, 2011 – Part 1: Get out of the cab
After almost 7 hours nice flights with Garuda Indonesia (www.garuda-indonesia.com), my sister and I arrive in Beijing Airport early in the morning. Lucky for us, our friends arrived one day earlier and let us know how to get from the airport to the hotel. So we took shuttle bus line 3 from the airport to Beijing Railway Station. We get off at the last stop which is Beijing International Hotel where we get a cab to go to Novotel Peace (our hotel). Turns out the cab driver does not want to use the meter. He ask for 30 yuan (according to our friends, the cost is only 10 yuan). My sister bargain for 20 yuan while I don’t want to tolerate such attitude. Cab Driver: Ni zou ba (ask us to get out of the cab). So we get out of the cab, wandering around for about half an hour in the street because we do not get other cab and finally find other hotel and someone help us stop a moving cab there.
Lessons #1: If you are traveling in short distance in Beijing, do not take a parking taxi, find a moving one.
May 29th, 2011 – Part 2 : Sunday Mass
After checking in, my sister and I are hurried up taking the subway from Dong Shi Kou station to Xuan Wu Men. There is an English mass every Sunday (start at 11 am) at South Cathedral. The church is located in front of Sogo. Stop at Xuan Wu Men Station, take exit B.
May 29th, 2011 – Part 3: Xidan and WangFuJing
My sister and I are walking from South Cathedral to the local shopping area Xidan. We love Joy City, where you can find many international brands starting from Apple Store, Muji, Uniqlo, to Ajisen Ramen. Time pass so fast when we are checking out stuffs :). 5 pm just come by so quickly, so that we hurry back to the hotel, meet our friends and spend the night in Wang Fu Jing area. Looking around all the weird snacks such as cocoons, hope I have guts to try it some day.Glek….
May 30th, 2011 – Forbidden City
There are not much thing we can do today. We need to check out from the hotel by 2 pm. So we decided to visit the Forbidden City, since it is not so far from Novotel Peace. Since there are 4 of us, so we take the cab to the back door of the Forbidden City. Surprisingly, they have the machine translator in Indonesian, so i rent one. From around 10 to 1 we walk through the Forbidden City and it’s not enough to go through all the wings side. We just going straight from the back door to the front door. Definitely a place to go if you like to take pictures, the place is huge. Of course it will be much more fun if you go with your friends who like to be photographed. The one thing I am so amazed is the ceramics museum, at the right side of the Forbidden City entrance. They have a touch screen who can produce a 3-D pictures of the ceramics. The inside, the bottom, you can see the whole ceramics without holding it. Just amazed on how this type of technology is available inside a building that is so old.
May 30th, 2011 – The beginning
We take the subway and get out at WangFuJing Street to grab some lunch. There is a moslem hotpot restaurant near the KFC. We are thinking to try it but considering the limited time, we finally go down to the food centre just beside KFC, which is not bad. There are some foods that I would like to try, too bad my stomach is not that huge. Arriving in hotel around 1.40, there is not much time left before we are charged for another day. Take a very quick shower since we probably will not be able to take a shower for the next two days.
The Chinahighlights tour pick us up to reduce our anger. Considering all six of us are separated in the train. We have expresses our disappointment before we go to China and they say they will help us to ask other passenger to change tickets with us. Lucky for us someone pick us up. Turns out the Beijing Railway Station is quite far and definitely a hectic place.